Iraq Oil Report's Daily Brief compiles the most important news and analysis about Iraq from around the web.

Iraq diary: Drinking sweet tea in West Mosul

Kevin Clarke writes for America Magazine:

Around us the rubble of West Mosul throws a fine white dust into the air that coats your clothing and grits your hair, covers your shoes and camera lens, and gets into just about everything else. I find myself briefly wondering what percentage of my newly acquired coating of Mosul particles represents vaporized human remains. But people were not the only things destroyed in this part of the Old City of Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Just a few blocks away, centuries of Muslim, Chaldean, Syriac Orthodox and Catholic and Armenian places of worship are now little more than piles of debris and gravel and dust. Some ornate door arches remain as depressing reminders of the church architecture that used to stand here, a clutch of faiths located together in the Old City. The church arches had already been defaced by ISIS militants with bullet blasts meant to remove crosses and other Christian symbols even before the walls around them were demolished by mortar rounds or U.S. and Iraqi air strikes. Of course, a spiteful ISIS in retreat did its best to destroy what it could, so who did which damage to what here is hard to say. The view from the collapsed roof of the Syriac Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (also known as the Church of Al-tahira), parts of which date back to the seventh century, is especially disheartening. Though the sounds of hammers, cement mixers and construction saws at work rise to the roof of this broken church, the perspective it offers is one of utter destruction in all directions.

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Central Bank of Iraq unveils new 1000 dinar banknote featuring Assyrian star

Rudaw reports:

The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) has released a series of new banknote designs aimed at modernizing the currency and better reflecting the nation’s heritage and diversity.

The last significant redesign of Iraqi banknotes came after the 2003 US invasion, which saw Saddam Hussein’s face removed from the currency.

Now a new series of 25,000, 10,000, 1000, 500, 250 dinar notes is set to enter circulation from next week. The CBI says it does not plan to recall old banknotes.

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Kurdish families caught between Iran and the US

Judit Neurink writes for Deutsche Welle:

"We are very much afraid it will happen again. There is no war going on here, and we did not deserve this. We'd like to go somewhere else, especially as I lost my husband. What kind of life is this?"

In her black mourning dress, Iran Rasulzadeh, 45, sits on the floor of her living room in the family camp of the Iranian Kurdish resistance group KDPI (Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran). Apart from the carpet, the room in the small single-story house is empty. Rasulzadeh is mourning her husband, Mam Shawkawt, who was killed recently when Iranian missiles struck the group's headquarters while he was on guard duty.

One morning in early September, seven 3.5 ton ballistic missiles flew over 70 kilometers (44 miles) from their launch site in Iran and hit a training field and a concrete fort just outside the sleepy Iraqi Kurdish town of Koya, killing 16 people and wounding 40. Both are used by the KDPI. The target was its central committee, which was holding a plenary meeting in the fort.

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The reconstruction of the Al Nuri mosque reclaims a rich and humane legacy

Timothy Power writes for The National:

The recent announcement that the UAE will undertake the reconstruction of the Great Nuri Mosque in Mosul, destroyed by ISIS in July 2017, represents the quiet victory of moderation over extremism. The mosque was built by one of the most important figures of Islamic history, Nur Al Din Zangi, who led the fight against the Crusaders and Shiite Fatimids in the 12th century.

ISIS had previously attempted to lay claim to this legacy, of Nur Al Din the mujahid or holy warrior, when its leader gave a speech at the Nuri Mosque in July 2014. Yet Nur Al Din was no extremist. Rather, he was a notable exponent of moderation, known as iqtisad or qasd in Arabic, a concept deeply embedded in classical Islamic civilisation.

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Sweet success: Kurdish beekeepers showcase honey in Lebanon

Rudaw reports:

Kurdish beekeepers hope to win more recognition for their honey at the 11th International Conference of Arab Beekeepers, this year held in the Lebanese capital.

Kurdistan’s mountain pastures covered with wildflowers are an ideal climate for raising bees. Kurdish honey has twice won a medal at previous editions of the conference and organizers say honey from this region is in demand.

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Congolese doctor, Yazidi activist, champions in fight against rape in war, win Nobel Peace Prize

Crispin Kyalangalilwa, Ted Siefer, and Nerijus Adomaitis report for Reuters:

Denis Mukwege, a doctor who helps victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery by Islamic State, won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

They were honored for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.

“Each of them in their own way has helped to give greater visibility to war-time sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions.”

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EU’s Iraq envoy struck down by Basra’s dirty water

AFP reports:

The European Union's ambassador to Iraq said Thursday he had become sick in the city of Basra from polluted water, which has seen tens of thousands of residents hospitalised.

Envoy Ramon Blecua said he felt ill and "had to cancel several meetings" in the southern city.

He said he had not planned "to take my solidarity with the people of Basra that far, but certainly now share how you feel".

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U.S. Blames Iran For Attacks In Iraq, They Both Have A History Of Targeting Each Other’s Diplomats

Tom O'Conner writes for Newsweek:

The U.S. has officially blamed Iran for recent attacks near Washington's diplomatic presence in Iraq, where the two powers have competed for influence in the latest venue of a decades-long feud sparked by an embassy hostage crisis.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday that "Iran is the origin of the current threat to Americans in Iraq" and was "to blame for the attacks against our mission in Basra and our embassy in Baghdad," adding that his department's "intelligence in this regard is solid." Iran has the support of a number of semi-official Shiite Muslim militias across Iraq, and Pompeo cited "repeated incidents of indirect fire from elements of those militias" against the two U.S. sites in a Friday statement announcing the closure of the consulate general in the southern city of Basra.

Iran, whose own consulate general in Basra was burned down last month, has rejected these charges. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi said Saturday that "the ridiculous justification [provided by Americans] for the closure of the U.S. Consulate General in Basra, which came after weeks of propaganda and false allegations against Iran and the Iraqi forces, is a suspicious move aimed at evading responsibility and pinning the blame on others responsibility and pinning the blame on others."

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Iraq to cut winter crop area by 55 percent on water shortages

Reuters reports:

Iraq’s agriculture ministry said on Thursday it would reduce its 2018-2019 winter crop planting area by 55 percent due to a water shortage.

Iraq will grow around 315,266 hectares of wheat on irrigated land, a statement by the ministry said.

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‘Last pocket of ISIS’ fighters surrounded, DoD official says

Kyle Rempfer reports for Military Times:

U.S. troops and their local partner forces have surrounded what has been called the “last pocket of ISIS resistance,” according to military officials involved in the campaign.

The final push, known as Operation Roundup, is in its third week. It is occurring in the Middle Euphrates River Valley’s Deir ez-Zor province, close to the Iraq-Syria border.

Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition’s fire support, have dialed back the Islamic State precipitously over the past few years.

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